A Second Moment Closure computation (SMC) is compared in detail with the Direct Numerical Simulation (DNS) data of Le and Moin for the backstep flow at Re = 5,000 in an attempt to understand why the intensity of the backflow and, consequently, the friction coefficient in the recirculation bubble are severely underestimated. The data show that this recirculation bubble is far from being laminar except in the very near wall layer. A novel 'differential a priori' procedure was used, in which the full transport equation for one isolated component of the Reynolds stress tensor was solved using DNS data as input. Conclusions are then different from what would have been deduced by comparing a full simulation to a DNS. One cause of discrepancy was traced back to insufficient transfer of energy to the normal stress by pressure strain, but was not cured. A significant finding, confirmed by the DNS data in the core region of a channel flow, is that the coefficient that controls destruction of dissipation, C epsilon(sub 2), should be decreased by a factor of 2 when production is vanishing. This is also the case in the recirculation bubble, and a new formulation has cured 25% of the backflow discrepancy.